For the first time, NASA astronauts looked different during the Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) as they don the new SpaceX spacesuits.
According to Space.com, Crew Dragon and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were the first humans to have worn the new spacesuits during a space mission that began on May 30 after they launched into space from Florida.
This was the first time since 2011 that a human spaceflight launched from the area after the space shuttle program ended.
Before the Crew Dragon’s launch, all astronauts have worn what they call the “pumpkin suit,” which Hurley and Behnken have worn multiple times in their past missions.
The “pumpkin” launch suits, which are officially known as Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES), got its name because of its bright orange color and it is bulkier than the new suit, making movement limited and rather difficult for the astronauts.
The new SpaceX spacesuits, which looked completely different from the former suits, were custom-made for the two astronauts and are fitted to their body sizes.
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During a press conference last June 1 from the space station, Hurley said that they have “donned and offed” the new spacesuits “a couple of hundred times” since they had to wear them during their training for the Demo-2 mission.
Nevertheless, both astronauts said it was easier to get in and out of the new SpaceX suits compared to the old ones, especially in zero gravity, which is the case while they’re on board the space station.
However, they clarified that ACES and the new SpaceX suits are not for spacewalks and are only used for launches and landings.
The suits were specially made to help protect the astronauts in case of depressurization and fire while aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Additionally, the gloves were designed so it would be easier for the astronauts to use the spacecraft touchscreens, plus the spacesuits were also designed to plug into the seat umbilicals that carry oxygen and cool air from the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
“These suits didn’t have to do that job for us, which was nice. But it was clear that they were ready,” Behnken said while talking about the suit and its primary functions.
“We’d have to get the suits a five-star rating,” he added.
Hurley and Behnken also thanked the ground crews who developed the spacesuits for their work, ensuring that the design fits the functionality of the Crew Dragon astronauts.
Chris Trigg, SpaceX’s spacesuits and crew equipment manager, posted a video on Twitter last month, explaining how they developed the new suits.
“One of the things that was important in the development of the suit was to make it easy to use, something that the crew just literally has to plug in when they sit down, and the suit takes care of things from there,” Trigg said.
Of course, SpaceX had tried the spacesuit before and donned a dummy with a version in 2018 to guarantee it would be ready for human use in space.
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